Description of the Procedure
Plasmapheresis is done using an apheresis machine. The machine works in one of two ways. In the first method, the blood cells may be separated from the plasma by spinning the blood at high speeds. The second method uses a special membrane. The membrane has tiny pores that only the plasma can pass through, leaving the blood cells behind.
You will be asked to lie in a bed or sit in a reclining chair. Two needles attached to a catheter tube will be inserted into veins. In some cases, a needle will be inserted into each arm. For others, one needle may be inserted into your arm and the other into the opposite foot. If the veins in your limbs are too small to use, a long-duration catheter will be inserted. It will be placed in a vein in your shoulder or groin area.
Long-Duration Catheter Placement in Shoulder and Groin
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Blood will be taken out of your body through one of the catheter tubes. It will then go into the apheresis machine. Once in the machine, the blood cells will be separated from the plasma. The blood cells will be mixed with replacement plasma or a plasma substitute. The new mixed blood will then be returned to your body through the other tube.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- Avoid hot foods or beverages for at least two or three hours after treatment. They can dilate blood vessels and may make you feel light-headed.
- Avoid sun and hot weather on the day of treatment.
- Avoid hot showers and saunas on the day of treatment.
- To lessen the chance of excessive bleeding, do not shave or cut your fingernails for at least 4-6 hours after treatment.
- You can usually return to your regular activities the day of your treatment.
Be sure to follow your doctor's
Improvement can occur within days or weeks, depending on the condition being treated. Benefits usually last for up to several months, but may last longer. Over time, autoantibodies may again be produced by your body. Because of this, plasmapheresis is mainly used as a temporary treatment.